WILDLAND EQUIPMENT

Wildland fires are outdoor fires, also called brushfires, forest fires, or just wildfires. Wildland fires differ from structure fires for obvious reasons. While some tools are used for both types of fire there are many special tools used to control wildland fires.

 

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Wildland tools

This shows the most common wildland firefighting hand tools. The forestry shovel, Pulaski and McLeod.

Forestry shovel 

The forestry shovel is simply a short handled round point shovel but it is one of the most versatile wildland hand tools. It can be used to cut small trees or brush, scrape away light fuels like grass and is used to throw dirt on a fire slowing the spread of the flames.

 

McLeod

The McLeod is a combination rake and cutting / scraping tool. It is named after it's credited inventor, Malcolm McLeod an early 20th century US Forest Service firefighter.

 

McLeod detail

Close up of the tool head, the orange plastic guard covers the sharp edge. In addition to its use as a wildland tool, the large teeth make the McLeod popular with some structural firefighters for looking for hot spots in the ashes of structure or trash fires.

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Pulaski

The Pulaski is a combination axe and hoe used to cut brush and dig up roots. It is named for its credited inventor, Edward Pulaski an early 20th century US Forest Service firefighter. 

Pulaski detail

Close up of the tool head.

Combi-tool

The combi-tool resembles a military entrenching tool but is much larger. The head can be configured in several ways allowing the tool to be used as a pick, shovel or scraping tool. It is also a nice height for leaning on making it popular with crew leaders.

 

Swatter

The swatter is used to beat out and smother fires in light fuels like grass. This is one of the earliest specialized tools created for wildland fires. It is still used in some areas but is not particularly common. A similar "tool" is often made by cutting a green tree branch and using that to beat the flames.  

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Brush hook

Brush hooks are similar to an axe but their shape allows the brush hook to cut through brush better. They have been largely replaced by chainsaws but are still occasionally found.

Council rake

The council rake is used in areas that have thick ground cover such as vines or roots. The teeth are sharp helping the tool cut through thick vegetation. 

Two man crosscut saw

Saws like this were first used in the late 1800's, they remained common with wildland firefighters until the mid 70's when small portable chainsaws became readily available. These saws are still used in wilderness areas and are particularly common with smokejumpers and helitack crews. Old fire hose is popular as a cover to protect the teeth of the saw. They range in length from 48" - 84".

 

Two man crosscut saw

The handles on these saws are removable to make transport and storage easier. Newer saws must be carried flat but the older saws (pre-WW2) could be bent into a horseshoe for easier transport without damaging the saw. The older saws are highly prized for this feature and many saws made in the early part of the century are still in use today. 

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One man crosscut saw

This is a smaller version of the crosscut saw intended for use with one person. It has a removable handle allowing it to be used as a small 2 man saw.

 

Falling axe

A flat head axe like this is used with a cross cut saw or chainsaw when felling trees. It is used to remove small limbs and for driving wedges.

Drip torch

The drip torch is used to light fires this is done to remove fuel before the main fire arrives strengthening the fire line (burning out) or to start a fire that will influence the main fires direction or intensity (backfire).

 

Drip torch

Another view. The drip torch is filled with a mixture of gasoline and diesel fuel. It is commonly used in prescribed fires and wildland fires.

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Back pack pump

The back pack pump has a flexible bladder holding 5 gallons of water, the trombone style sprayer is used to manually spray the water. It is also popularly known as a bladder bag or piss pump.

Back pack pump

Another view. The flexible bladder style of back pack pump such as this one have largely replaced the older rigid metal can style.

Back pack pump

This is an older style of back pack pump. It is basically the same as the bladder style except for the obvious rigid tank. 

Back pack pump

Another view. This style pump is often called an Indian pump since this was the brand name used by a major manufacturer. It is also called a can for obvious reasons.

 

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